Why Write about Patents and Whitepapers when it comes to SEO?
Writing about patents and whitepapers from the search engines is a business analysis approach and a content marketing approach, which focuses on looking at publications from the search engines that aren’t intended to be filled with marketing materials for those search engines, but are rather aimed at protecting intellectual property to educate the industry and potential clients. It is in the search engines best interest to publish documents that accurately describe the processes that they have invented, in order to give them the right to exclude others from using those processes. Sharing patents from the search engines and providing information about them makes sense to provide information to an audience that is interested in how the search engines are ranking pages in their indexes.
When a search engine applies for a patent, they aren’t creating a document that is intended to market an invention they are making. Instead, they are applying to the government for legal protection for their invention. The patent is intended to give someone with knowledge in the field of the invention an idea of what the invention covers, but it’s not a roadmap on how to create or recreate the invention step-by-step.
While the patent is often filled with legal language, it’s also often filled with assumptions about the Web, about search, and about searchers. I usually summarize a patent when I write about it, provide a link to it so that people can read it for themselves, and provide some of my own thoughts and analysis from the perspective of a searcher, a website owner, and a search engine optimizer.
I have a law degree and learned about legal research while in law school, and as a legal and technical administrator at Superior Court of Delaware (the highest level trial court in the state), where I worked for 14 years before I left to join an SEO agency.
Instead of arguing about the validity of patents, I prefer to instead write about them, the business approaches behind them and the technology behind them to learn as much as possible from them. Just because a search engine has a patent on an invention doesn’t mean that they are currently using it. The search engine may have technical or business reasons why they may not be or have decided to follow a different approach. But a patent is a clear signal that engineer at a search engine have researched a topic, and search engineers and lawyers work together to protect their intellectual property, and to exclude others from using the processes described in those patents.
It is also possible to learn from patents the assumptions that search engineers who write those are making about searchers, search, and the Web. Those can often be insightful and provide a way to understand the ideas and thoughts behind patented processes. Many patents start off with the problem they are trying to solve with the process they have filed to protect. They often then discuss what they consider to be prior art in the industry that may be intended to solve such problems. It also isn’t unusual to see a patent list the “advantages” behind the process they are patenting.
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is:
- Marketing that takes into consideration the framework of the Web
- An approach that understands how people find things on the Web (often through search engines)
- Utilizes how information flows through the Web (through social networks and decentralized networks such as blogs, and media channels)
I’ve been promoting sites in the Web since the mid-90s before AltaVista and Google were around. I was a forum moderator and administrator for almost a decade in a forum focused on promoting sites, helping small to medium-sized businesses, and doing SEO and usability for sites, and improving conversions and design.
I’ve provided SEO services to non-profits, to universities, to Fortune 500s, and to mom and pop e-commerce businesses.
How does Content Marketing and SEO work together?
Ideally, a site that targets an audience using SEO will do so by writing about SEO, by sharing information that may answer questions that site owners may have about how search engines may work, and how searchers may search for and find sites. After looking at many thousands of patents focusing upon algorithms that describe processes that search engines use to rank content on web page, We’ve learned not only about how patents work, but also about how search engines crawl and index pages on the Web, and rank those to show them to searchers.
Many clients use a content marketing approach too, writing about things that they believe might be of interest to their customers, often aimed at answering questions that their audiences might have, in an effort to attract visitors to their pages.
Why do you have a category on SEO Mythology?
There’s an old saying that one of the best places to learn about the Web is on the Web itself. There’s a lot of great information on the internet, but there’s also a lot of great misinformation. SEO has been around for a while, though some of its history is shrouded in mystery.
I’ve also run into articles and blog posts and practices that are more mythology or folklore than useful and helpful practices and I wanted to discuss those and the history behind them if possible.
I’ve seen people create content and pages and infographics that were less intended to provide good information and more intended to attract as many links as possible (content often referred to as linkbait)
Rather than getting aggravated whenever I see such content and how it might hurt and mislead people, I decided to create a category on my blog that dispelled or punctured that kind of misinformation. I have written a post on A Guide to the Biggest SEO Myths on The Web. In that post I discuss critical thinking and evidence-based approaches to consider when looking at pages about SEO.
Updated: October 7, 2020